Western Furniture Style Displays the Cowboy’s Natural, Rough-Hewn Fashion
One of the most playful, yet historically based and authentic types of furniture design originating in the US is the Western furniture style. Since the 1950s, when the “Western” became a popular genre of movies and television programs, the “Western look” has prevailed in everything from furniture to clothes to cereal box designs. It is meant to signify a rugged, healthy, active, out-of-doors lifestyle. In addition, it celebrates hardy men, women and children who worked and played lived hard, not just enduring, but triumphing over difficulty, hardship and danger in the days of the Wild West.
Western furniture is often primitive in design, made of rough-hewn wood logs, sturdy nails or pegs, and fabrics of uneven textures. The sparse lines and silhouettes of Western home furnishings—simplistic, straight-backed chairs, rough-edged square tables, and basic bunk beds—are all fashioned in styles suggesting the furniture common in the bunkhouses which once served as “home-away-from-home” in the “Old West” (1860-1910) for restless cowboys and other transient workers.
During bitter winter weather and months when storms prevented cowboys from herding cattle, sheep and horses, some of these high-spirited, restless men turned to wood carving, leather tooling, and simple metal working to pass the time. Combining these skills, they originated the primitive, basic designs that have evolved into entire lines and brands of modern day natural wood furniture and accessories.
Western symbols such as cow horns, wagon wheels, decorative boots with spurs, wild flowers and different varieties of the cactus plant abound in Western and South Western US log furniture. Strong primary colors are prevalent—vibrant reds, blues, and greens. And pronounced Spanish and Mexican influences are obvious in the use of desert hues like rust-orange, soft yellow and dark brown. Western furniture accessories often reflect the distinct Navajo style, as well, in wool rugs, hand-woven blankets, beads, and use of turquoise and feathers.
The combination of uneven more heavily textured wood and smooth, shining leather is characteristic of many Western style furniture pieces. Some examples of currently popular Western style designs are: Western iron barstools with tooled leather seats; Western wood cowboy shelves with iron hooks; hickory dressers and nightstands with knotted pine inlay doors; varied wood log armoires with antler handles; and
polished aspen coffee tables with dark walnut/pine inlay backgammon boards.
Refreshing for its heritage and natural elements, Western furniture brings a distinct flair and unique craftsmanship to modern wood furniture design.